Cows, Climate and Reality

Here’s the scary bit.

Ruminants (cows and sheep) fart and burp out Methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas many times more potent than Carbon Dioxide. Eighty six times more potent over a twenty year period. Thirty four times more potent over a hundred year period.

All of the above is true. Really!

But here's the rub.

Methane vented into the atmosphere is gone within nine years (somewhere between 8.75 and 9.5 actually – See Here ). It reacts (mainly) with hydroxyl radicals in the atmosphere to produce Water Vapour, Carbon Dioxide and Ozone.

So initially the greenhouse effect of Methane is stupendously high. But this is for a very, very short time. As the first few days turn into months the quantity of methane in the atmosphere from a release falls off a cliff. It literally disappears.

The greenhouse warming from a Methane release between years 9 - 100 in a 100 year period following a release is effectively nil. It is nil because there is none left 9 years after a release.

Methane decays in the atmosphere exponentially. Half of any release is gone in 14 months.

The net effect of a release of methane into the atmosphere is pretty much immediate and short lived.

The overall amount of Methane in the atmosphere linearly tracks the amount being released. Double the amount released – double the net amount in the atmosphere. Half the amount released then you halve it.

Assume you had a new continuous source releasing methane into the atmosphere. Then the amount of methane in the atmosphere would initially rise. Then it would level off as the newly released methane reached equilibrium with that decaying away.

After about two half-lives (say 2.5 years) the amount of methane in the atmosphere from your continuous and constant release will level off and stay constant.

Let's say our source of methane is ruminants like cattle and sheep.

It is true that cattle and sheep produce a lot of methane. 

But more to the point, they always have

They in effect provide a continuous and constant release of Methane into the atmosphere.

Unless the population size of these ruminants is changing then the amount of methane in the atmosphere from them will stay the same. It will be stable.

As methane has almost an immediate effect on global warming then that effect will already be evident and fully factored in today. There is no “build up” or appreciable time lag. 

If there is no further increase in total herd size then no further warming can be attributed to cattle or sheep.

Not convinced?

Here - try this latest piece of research from the British Veterinary Association. In fact their research shows that Methane release from UK sheep and cattle is actually falling. 

If it is falling then so is the established warming effect already in place from these ruminants.

The result is UK beef and sheep farms are already global warming negative. Their current activities are cooling the climate. 

If you don't believe me just read the British Veterinary Association article.

The world really is becoming a much better place. But to keep this progress on track and tackle the real issues regarding climate and pollution we need to bury the fear-mongering. 

Fakery like the current fiction that UK beef production is a terrible global warmer really does a disservice to us all.

(Don’t believe me the world is getting better? Read Factfulness by Hans Rosling – It’ll make your day) 

So whenever you see some spoilt child from Extinction Rebellion blubbering about how meat eaters have stolen their future, just tell them to lighten up and stop snivelling.

Then offer to buy them a burger.

You never know. It might work!

Brexit and the Value of Voting

I was once one of those folks who would berate anyone who didn’t vote.

“What’s wrong with you?” I’d say.

“How can you complain if you don’t vote? You don’t have a say if you don’t vote!”

Well. Times change.

For an individual voter the actual physical and financial value of voting is, and always has been, just about as near nil as you could get. 

Even at the parish council level, where the turnout is often just a couple of hundred voters, the number of elections where a single vote has changed the outcome is vanishingly small.

For an individual, voting as a process is valueless. The best you will ever get is a warm glow of satisfaction that you have done your democratic duty. But your one vote in many millions is all but irrelevant.

“But… If people don’t vote then democracy fails!” I hear you say. Which is true.

But democracy can sometimes fail (or be killed) even when people actually do vote. The “wrong” result can be either ignored or overturned by unscrupulous means.

A classic example is the current shambles surrounding the 2016 Brexit referendum vote where a clear (though highly unexpected) vote to leave the EU occurred. To date it has been systematically undermined, stone-walled and delayed.

So what happens when you vote for a particular outcome, find yourself on the winning side and then  the result is reneged on?

The only gain from your voting, that warm glow of democratic participation, evaporates. 

To be replaced by the feeling of being taken for a sucker.

There are many millions of people across the UK today who feel exactly that.

The losing side in the 2016 referendum have decided that the “wrong” answer should be cancelled.

The Liberal Democrats (what a parody of a name!) state that the 2016 referendum result should be ignored. Even though one former LibDem leader described it as a "Once in a Generation Vote" (Here) and another eulogised over how the result should be respected at all costs (Here

To be fair at the time they made these speeches they both thought remain would win. 

Others somewhat more squeamish about being so clearly identified as being anti-democratic, have another tactic.
They want what is laughably called a "Confirmatory" referendum.

If this enforced second referendum were to get successfully flushed through this cesspit of a parliament then I would hope Johnson and others would call for it to be boycotted.

But if the consensus among the Leave camp is to vote, I will grudgingly and reluctantly vote in what I would regard as little better than Hitlers enforced snap 1934 referendum.

Even so, I suspect that many people who voted leave in the 2016 referendum will not bother again.

Once bitten, twice shy. 

The turnout will fall and with it (I am sure this is the game plan) remain will sneak a win. Brexit will be cancelled.

Democracy in the UK will be not only dead but the corpse will be reeking with the stench of privilege and entitlement.

Voting is above all else an altruistic act. It is selfless and without tangible reward. It is something that those seeking office should be cherish and promote. Not cynically exploit.

If this Hitler style second referendum is forced through and then used to cancel Brexit then personally, I’ll be done with this cadaver of UK democracy.

I will never vote again.

An Inconvenient Planetary Greening

Strange red women march in London. Assorted Climate Warriors glue themselves to things. Even Darth Vader has made an appearance.

Bizarre uniformed youths in silver outfits (that make them look like demented Telly Tubbies) traipse across the bridges of the Thames.

The Climate Rebellion gathers apace.

But meanwhile, as the rest of us stoically await the promised global annihilation, there has been an (another) unfortunate and rather embarrassing development.

I've told you about the North Pole that has point blank refused to go ice free in summer (Here)

I've told you about the decreasing average wind speeds. (Here)

But now,  it appears the planet is greening as well.

Even though Extinction Rebellion promised us desertification and mass starvation
within 10 years (9 years to go), the quantity of vegetation on the planet is increasing.

Which (somewhat) ruins the Armageddon-esque narrative. (See Here)

And it's not just me saying it. Honest! I'm just the messenger. So don't shoot! Reserve your ammo and associated climate justice for the likes of NASA.

They are the swine who've discovered this greening abomination and are bragging
about it.

It's On this Link.

Guess what? A great deal of that greening comes from ambitious tree planting programs in India and China. In other words they are taking pro-active steps to improve the environment, and it is working.

So India and China are hugely improving the lives of their populations and greening the planet as well. All primed by reliable, plentiful and cheap energy!

(The average Climate Warrior might not like that last bit - Sorry)

But it is not just India and China that are greening up. The rest of the world is too!

This has been known since 2016 (See Here) but whenever you ask your average Climate Warrior about it they either mumble in disbelief or just look at their eco-friendly shoes.

So far we have reducing average wind speeds. The north pole ice cap is still there (prophesied to be gone eight years ago). Now we have increasing growth of vegetation instead of desertification.

This climate catastrophe is not really going to plan is it?

Or rather maybe somebody has not looked at the plan properly. After all the Planet really is warming.

So whats left of this Climate Emergency?

Well, it does look like sea levels are rising. Maybe there's more precipitation (rain).

Which is after all what you would expect with Global Warming  Climate Change whatever its source.

But how bad is this change and how will drastically reducing Carbon Dioxide emissions mitigate this rise?

Is collapsing the economy and throwing millions back to the Dark Ages really worth it?

That is for another post.

Crime and Contraception

Something “funny” is happening to the UK crime rate. It is going down.

OK I know there’s some political massaging of figures and fiddling around the edges to make things look better. 

But really, there is less crime now (especially violent crime) than there was back in the 80’s and 90’s.

Here’s the graph from here

“Yea! Ba-Phooey!” I hear you cry. Its the bloody BBC again!

Well, yes. 

But even so, (believe me) crime has decreased significantly since 1995. Of course there is still ugly peaks and troughs as various types of criminality go in or out of fashion. 

Yet statistically, looking across the board, the crime rate (especially violent crime) has decreased.

But Why?

There are those who will tell you its because of “more modern” policing, or some special social program, more bobbies on the beat or even less bobbies on the beat.

But no. People suggesting such things are often simply making it up as they go along. They are simply mouthing their best guess.

But there is a solidly researched and scientifically verifiable reason.

I must admit though I do find that reason somewhat discomforting.

My Eureka moment regarding a falling crime rate came when I was about one third the way through a fantastically enlightening and entertaining book called FreakanomicsLink Here. (stunningly important book – read it!)

I reached Chapter Four “Where have all the Criminals Gone?” It was, to put it biblically, like having the scales fall from my eyes.

Freakanomics is an American book. The USA peaked out their crime rate in 1989 – not too different from the UK in 1995. So I wondered if the reason for the collapse in the American crime rate was mirrored in the UK. 

But before we look at that lets explore the reasons for the USA crime rate fall.

Why did the USA crime rate peak in 1989? Why has it been falling ever since? Put simply, the USA introduced abortion on demand around 1970.

Who has an abortion? Back before 1970 in the USA it was only the relatively wealthy and well connected. 

After 1970 abortion became increasingly available to all income groups. So if you were a poor vulnerable girl who accidentally became pregnant, instead of becoming a failing young mother, you now had abortion as an answer to an otherwise desperate situation.

The birth rate to low income single teenage girls collapsed. Young unsophisticated girls, often barely more than children and usually the product of a casual teenage liaison themselves were allowed to grow up without the burden of an unwanted and (often) uncared-for child to look after.

Before the introduction of freely available abortion the offspring of these often feral teenagers grew up to become feral teenagers themselves. The cycle continued.

As they grew up these accidental children had no role model (beyond the local drug-dealer). As the males matured many turned to criminality (90% of crime is attributable to young males). Or if female – they got pregnant and simply re-fuelled the vicious social lock-in that had brought them into the world in the first place.

Criminality is mostly a problem among feral young males aged 15 to 27. After the age of 27 there is a marked and prolonged decrease in male criminality. Of course other groups do commit crimes but young males from broken or non-existent homes form the bulk of modern day criminals.

With each passing year after 1970 the abortions continued. The reservoir of future criminals decreased. Then in 1989 about twenty years after the introduction of freely available abortion in the USA, the reservoir began to empty. The physical number of criminals in their early twenties or late teens began to decrease.

Less uncared-for feral children make for less young criminals. And less young criminals make for less crime.

Stunningly simple. Even though it feels somewhat discomforting.

So does this scenario pan out for the UK too? It looks like it does. 

When abortion was introduced into the UK in 1969 uptake was relatively slow. In 1970 the number of abortions was 86,000 while in 1975 (twenty years before the peak in crime rate) it had risen to 140,000. From then on it levelled off at around 190,000. Today it is just over 200,000 per year.

So around 20 years after the provision of easily accessible abortion in the UK, the crime rate started to fall. Just as it had in the USA.

This is not to say that this is the only reason for falling crime rates but it is without doubt a (very) major factor.

But nobody (and I base this on many conversations with female friends) likes abortion as a method of birth control.

Ironically the best way to avoid abortions is not by abstention (didn’t work in the 80’s and won’t work now) but by free and readily available contraception. Especially to those most likely to fall into the teenage pregnancy trap and are sadly the least likely to get pro-active support and help.

Maybe by pro-actively promoting contraception more we can reduce the abortion rate and still keep the benefits of a lower crime rate.

Remember the problem here is with contraception for young people who are probably already having difficulty growing up and need to be guided by more capable individuals. For example we are not dealing with the typical emancipated and pro-active young woman who can sort her self out.

Criminality is driven by a surprisingly small sector of society. (more in a later post). That is why the advent of freely available abortion has had such a large impact upon it. 

But abortion can be traumatic. A better regime of contraceptive support especially for the vulnerable can cut this trauma and still reduce unwanted pregnancies.

To me promoting contraception seems a much better idea than simply relying on abortion. While maintaining a falling crime rate is a big societal bonus.

I think few would disagree.